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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 14, 2008 • Issue 08:04:01


Destination: Sanity

The aggravations associated with airline travel can test the resolve and dampen the enthusiasm of even the hardiest ISO or merchant level salesperson (MLS). According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 2007 was one of the worst years in airline travel history for flight delays, cancellations and stranded passengers.

Today's travelers have to combat 20-year-old computer systems, air traffic controllers who can't adjust to increasing capacity, understaffed carriers and more.

But traversing the country to develop strategic partnerships, follow up on leads and close deals is difficult enough without the added stressors flight problems can cause.

Tips to the wise

So, how do you evade the obstacle course that has become air travel? Here are some ways to avoid the downside of commercial aviation.

  • If possible, schedule your travel for the first 20 days of the month. This reduces the chance that your flight will be canceled because the pilot or crew has already hit the maximum monthly limit of hours worked.

  • Leave early in the day, and get on the first available flight, preferably on a plane that spent the night at the airport from which you are departing. The biggest factor controlling delays is not your destination but the location the aircraft assigned to your flight is originating from. Call an agent from your carrier before you depart for the airport, and ask for the status of the flight you are taking.

  • Sign up for e-mail alerts. Most airlines offer this service, as do several online travel Web sites. In some cases, you can even sign up for text messages sent to your cell phone.

  • Avoid "direct" flights. The only good flight is nonstop. Direct is a euphemism that means you'll stop at least once and thus exponentially increase your chances for a delay.

  • Stay away from major hubs. If you can fly into a secondary airport, you'll reduce your risk of delay.

  • If you can't book a nonstop flight, allow extra time for your layover. Some airlines leave only an hour between connecting flights. Pick flights with at least twice that amount of time for your connections, and you'll eliminate a major source of anxiety.

  • If your budget permits, don't check your bags; ship them ahead of time to your destination via a reputable shipping service. This will eliminate 20 to 40 minutes at the airport typically spent waiting for luggage to arrive at the carousel. (And that's only if you and your bags have arrived at the same destination.)

  • A guaranteed way to avoid flight delays: Don't fly. Try the train on short routes, such as Los Angeles to San Diego or New York to Boston. You may save money and reach your destination faster.

Plans for success

Some airlines are operating with crew levels that cannot meet the demand for flights.

Under such conditions, any delay can become extended and turn your business travel into nightmare travel.

And reaching your destination in an exhausted, disgruntled state won't enhance your chances of reaching your goals for the trip.

Plan your transportation properly, and you'll not only avoid snafus, you'll also breathe easier and likely be more productive, too. end of article

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